I sat in a worn, squeaky auditorium chair at my elementary school, feeling goose bumps as I was suddenly consumed by a vision of my future. I was in fourth grade, and I had just witnessed my music teacher demonstrate every instrument in the string family. Each instrument was impressive, but none of them compared to the cello. Later that night, still caught up in my new dream career of “world-famous cellist,” I announced my plans to start cello lessons to my parents at the dinner table.
Dad’s eyebrows reached halfway up his forehead, and Mom let out a bit of a giggle. No doubt they were thinking about the high costs — at least $1,200 — and…our Subaru.
Our family of three rode around the streets of our Iowa town in a two-door 1988 red Subaru Justy, which still to this day is the smallest car I have ever been inside. When I started cello lessons and the children’s all-city orchestra a short time later, we learned how truly small the car was.
It was nothing short of a 15-minute process to get that cello in our Subaru. Mom and I had to release the back seats so that they would fold down, and then scoot the front driver’s and passenger’s bucket seats up so much that when we eventually climbed back into the car, our knees were scrunched against the dashboard. The cello was longer than the car was wide or long. So it was carefully jockeyed back and forth through the hatchback opening until it was safely wedged at a 45-degree angle into the car.
Twice a week during the school year, and every day during the next summer, Mom helped me load my cello into that Subaru. It was inconvenient, and we must have looked ridiculous, driving with our knees crammed up against the dashboard, inching our way through turns to protect the cello’s delicate neck. But my parents saw a passion in me, and they did whatever it took to encourage it.
One of the questions we asked while preparing this issue of Mutuality was “How do we mentor and parent children to understand biblical equality?” This task for us as egalitarians may feel a bit like how my mother felt, trying to fit my cello into that Subaru each morning. It takes time, energy, perseverance, and a willingness to look slightly ridiculous. Youth workers and parents have to counteract negative messages about gender from their children’s schools, the mainstream media, and even their churches’ youth groups. We often hear from these concerned egalitarians that this task feels like an exhausting uphill battle. Yet it is also a task that brings incredible joy.
My mother was willing to sacrifice for me, because she believed that I should be free to follow the passions God had given me. That same belief drives egalitarians to be joyful, and to keep hoping and working for change, despite how inconvenient and awkward that work might be. What a privilege it is to help children see they are all made in God’s image, to witness their enthusiasm and say, yes, God will call you based on your gifts. We still have much work to do, but our joy comes in the hope that the next generations will know Jesus’ love and freedom for them regardless of their ethnicity, class, age, or gender.
While this “Children of God” theme of Mutuality could have developed in many different directions, we decided to focus on reflections and practical tips to help parents and mentors encourage egalitarian values in the next generations of Christians. In this issue you will find reflections on building your family’s purpose, how to teach children about biblical equality, reflections on breastfeeding and God as our nurturer, and tips on equipping teenagers to be world-changers. We pray you will be strengthened, challenged, and encouraged. Blessings to you as you read and reflect!